Last month I posted a brief glimpse of my work-in-progress. Today I tell you a little about my main character.
Fifteen-year-old Hillary Noone lives with her father and stepmother in rural New Jersey in 1967. She’s pleasant-looking but a little nerdy, with long, dark hair and glasses. Her favorite place in the whole world is the woods behind her home, which she has roamed freely since she was small. She’s smart and studious, but she is having a rough transition with her father’s recent marriage.
Her own mother died when she was eight. Although she misses her deeply, she and her father deepened their own relationship to get through their loss.
Hillary sees her stepmother, Kate, as a usurper, someone moving in and taking her mother’s (and even her own) place in her father’s heart.
A Western Civilizations class field trip to the Cloisters (the medieval department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art) fills Hillary with anticipation, because it combines many of her loves—of art and beauty, of history, of learning. There, while viewing the Unicorn Tapestries, she has an odd encounter with a museum guard who tells her she has been chosen to protect the unicorn.
Hillary becomes obsessed with unicorns—she studies everything she can about unicorn lore, draws unicorns incessantly, teaches herself how to needlepoint so she can make something that looks like a unicorn tapestry. Her obsession wears on the nerves of Allie, her best friend, who thinks it’s a bunch of silly nonsense. Other classmates also ridicule her, but Robin, the new boy in town, tolerates her interest and even supports her.
As the novel progresses, Hillary is forced to take a stand and to endure hardship and danger in order to complete her mission. She believes in her cause so strongly that she is willing to go it alone and even risk death to do what she’s been called to do. She develops a resourcefulness she never knew she’d need. And just when she believes she’s failed miserably, things take an unexpected turn and she discovers a revelation, with Robin’s help.